All of Grace

Like Carl, and many others, Ephesians is a favorite of mine. I could spend an inordinate amount of time in this one epistle (if inordinate were possible). Now, as we venture into Chapter 2, we begin to explore the depths of Paul’s revelation about our position and inheritance in Christ.

The first thing we see is that we were dead (v. 1). We may have thought we were alive simply because we could eat, drink and be merry. But, when we look back on our life before Christ, we realize that any merriment was contrived or forced. We had to DO things to find a moment’s joy. There was no sense of lasting joy.

Most evangelical Christians recognize this reality and that is why they proclaim the necessity of being born again. However, the terms and phrases they use put a lie to the truth that is given here and in many other places in Scripture.

We are told to “make a decision for Christ,” “to accept Christ” in order to be born again or to be saved.

While that is true insofar as it goes, the emphasis on our “personal decision” for a “personal savior” leads many to believe that it is their intelligence, their strength, their effort that placed them within the Kingdom of God.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump (Gal. 5:9), and this subtle error creeps in at the beginning and ruins the life of many a believer.

A dead person has no ability at all. There are no laws that affect the dead, for there are none that the dead can obey. Even the “law” to get saved cannot be fulfilled by a dead person. (This becomes important to understand when considering Jesus’ teachings about dying to self.) {for an excellent treatment of the practical application of dying to self, click here.}

Therefore, what are we to do?

We can’t DO anything unless God intervenes.

That is the plain teaching of scripture beginning with the first mention of being born again by Jesus to Nicodemus in John 3. Even Nicodemus wanted to know what he had to do, and Jesus said, “Can’t. If it doesn’t happen by the Spirit, it won’t happen.” (my rendition of John 3:3-6)

And that is what Paul reiterates here in chapter 2:5 “…even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved…”

Other passages for your consideration of this important truth:

John 1:13  – who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Deu 30:6  – And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Eze 36:26  – And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Jhn 5:21  – For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

Jhn 6:44  – No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.

Act 5:31  – God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Phl 1:29  – For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

1Pe 2:9  – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Jhn 17:2  – since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

Rom 9:16  – So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Jam 1:18  – Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Act 13:48  – And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Eph 2:8-9  – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

All scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version. 

I was dead.

He made me live.

Glory to God!

 

NOTE: This is the second in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Ephesians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter two of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.

Blindness

2 Corinthians 4:4

among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God. (NET)

whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (NKJV)

in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (NASB)

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (NIV)

Is there a difference between the god of the age in which Paul wrote these words and the god of the present age? Probably not. Most believers recognize the “god of this age” as Satan.

But, then we can classify what it is that people of the age worship, such as money, power, prestige, fame, etc. Again, we would be hard-pressed to make a dinstinctive difference for the two ages. We do not know for a certainty, however, what it was like in those times. However, we do have some witnesses who have left us written records.

Is it important to know if there is a distinction? NO.

Why?

Because the result is the same–they are blinded to the light of the gospel.

Are they victims? The plain statement is that they have been blinded by an outside force. In our society of today we take that to mean “It’s not my fault! Someone else has done this to me!” And so we cry and bemoan our miserable situation.

And the Lord has spoken plainly to us about that very thing:

Proverbs 19:3
The foolishness of a man twists his way, And his heart frets against the LORD. (NKJV)
A person’s folly subverts his way, and his heart rages against the Lord. (NET)
A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD. (NIV)
People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD. (NLT)

The truth, however, is hidden in plain sight–unbelief is the cause. Satan can only blind those who do not believe.

And that, my friend, is your responsibility.

To believe, or not to believe; that is the question, is it not?

You have been given more than one opportunity to believe the Lord Jesus, and to this point you may have rejected those opportunities. But, you are here today, reading this blog by the mercy of God.

Today is your day.

Stop your unbelief. Believe, and call on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)

Constantly Renewed

Tit 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;              KJV

We all know that there is no benefit in any of our ‘works’ to try to make us right with God. We cannot pray enough or hard enough. We can’t cry enough or loud enough. We cannot help enough people out of their misery. We cannot give enough money to enough charities. There is absolutely nothing that we can do in our own strength that will please God enough to take away the sentence of death that we carry in our bodies.

Having that sense of death, and knowing that there is no way out, should cause us to fall on our face before God and cry, “Mercy!”

That mercy is given in the form and name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When we receive Jesus as our Savior, we are washed. It is called here “regeneration.”

What is regeneration?

When a tree has a limb broken off and a new one grows in its place, that is regeneration. When a tree is cut down, and new one comes forth from the stump, that is regenration.

When your old self was crucified with Christ, and the new you came forth in true righteousness and holiness, that is regeneration.

We are saved by that regeneration.

We are also saved by the ‘renewing of the Holy Ghost.’

That is not a ‘one-shot deal’ though. Notice that it is renewing of the Holy Ghost. It is an ongoing process.

Many claim to have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. That may very well be. But, there is more to it than that.

I was baptized in water, but I am not still wet. There is a continual renewal that must be taking place in my life.

How about you? Are you being continually filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18)?

What does that look like for you? What do you do?